In the aftermath of the pool party, I’ve had a lot of questions about salmon. Seems CFUers are always interested in improving the quality of their diet. So, I thought I’d write down a few things about salmon…
One of the most common questions is about salmon species–which to buy? The good news is that more wild-caught salmon seems to be available. However, knowing what you are buying can be confusing, since most salmon species have more than one non-scientific name, and seafood companies have added even more confusion by devising “market” names for species that may be of lower quality.
I’m going to stick to about eight different species–six Pacific salmon (including steelhead), Atlantic salmon, and Arctic Char. All these are “salmonids,” the family that includes salmon, trout, char, grayling and others. Lets look at the Pacific salmon first:
King Salmon–also known as Chinook–is considered the most desirable food fish. The largest of the pacific salmon, they can weight over 100 lbs, though fish in the 25 lb range are common. They are available as wild caught, fresh or frozen. This is the salmon we ate at the party!
Coho or Silver salmon–another very esteemed food fish. Not quite as high in fats/oils, needs a bit more care in cooking to avoid drying out. Commonly 8-12 lbs.
Sockeye or Red salmon–another excellent food fish. One of the more common smoked salmons. Many consider this the best Pacific salmon, though it will tend to dry out in cooking as Coho/Silver salmon will.
Chum or Dog Salmon–this is considered a less desirable food fish. It is marketed as “Keta salmon” or “Silverbrite salmon.” One of the least oily, must use care in cooking. Look for firm filets with distinct striations and avoid mushy-looking fish.
Pink salmon–commonly as canned salmon.
Atlantic salmon–virtually all of this is now farm-raised (more on that in a later article). Farm-raised salmon is high in fat, including the desirable omega-3 fatty acids. Early concerns about environmental impact and contaminants were almost certainly overblown. A good choice and great value.
Steelhead–this is a rainbow trout that spends part of its life cycle in saltwater. Does not die after spawning. Found in markets here frequently, farm-raised from Chile. Smaller, thinner filets require adjustment in cooking time, but have excellent, somewhat milder flavor, and great texture. I buy this a lot when I can get it!
Arctic char–this is mostly farm-raised in Iceland. Grown in tanks based on land, which alleviates environmental concerns. An excellent food fish, I see it mostly in restaurants, and order it every time I can! Again, slightly milder flavor than King, Silver or Sockeye salmon.
Next up–Salmon nutrition…